On her first newly recorded album since 1986's Warriors of the Rainbow, Carolyn Hester sums up her life and career so far and looks to the future. "Flatlands of Texas," one of five songs she wrote herself, comments autobiographically on her childhood. Buddy Holly's "Lonesome Tears" recalls one of her early musical associations, and Richard Farina's "Pack Up Your Sorrows" recalls her first marriage. Her participation in the early-'60s folk revival is acknowledged in the anti-war standard "The Crow on the Cradle" and in Tom Paxton's song about Alzheimer's disease, "The Names of Trees." Protégé Nanci Griffith is addressed in "Nanci's Song." Hester also incorporates her family into her music, not only by using her daughters, Karla and Amy Blume, and her husband, David Blume, as backup musicians, but also by recording Karla's "Don't Know What I Did Before Without You" and turning over another of Karla's compositions, "Deep Green," to her daughters entirely. "Guess I'm Getting Older" (written by 21-year-old Bruce Kirkman) acknowledges the passage of time, but on Lynn Langham and Sam Gay's "From These Hills," Hester declares, "This journey's far from over." Indeed, her own "The Little Girl Who Saved America" (about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) and the album-closing emotional memoir "Cycle of Seven" demonstrate that she has retained a writing talent to go along with her soft, preserved, childlike soprano as she reaches her late 50s. If she's only going to make an album once every ten years, it's a good thing that she can pack as much of her life into it as she does here.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann